Of Free Elections and Bashir’s Warnings to Observers

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Sudanese at an elections campaign rally, South Sudan

A few days ago, a key announcement was made by over ten Sudanese opposition parties calling on the postponement of the April 11 elections.

Some of the reasons they cite in their letter is the improper census and voter registration conducted last year, repressive laws that have seen opposition party members being arrested arbitrarily, Darfur problem where an estimated 60% of the population did not even register to vote, unfair media laws that give NCP undue advantage etc.

Truth be told, the challenges facing the National Elections Committee are gargantuan. It is understaffed and doesnt have the capacity to conduct credible elections (even by the very low African threshold of electoral standards!).

Is it any wonder that the opposition has led the way on calling for their postponement? And quite telling is the recent report by the Carter Center casting aspersions on the ability on any meaningful credible being conducted in April. The latter even went ahead to call for postponement.

Predictably, Bashir reacted angrily threatening to ‘cut their fingers, put them under our shoes and throw them (foregin monitors) out of Sudan’. Hmmm…

So now everywhere he turns, Bashir is being bombarded with calls to put off the polls to a later date. Even his newfound friend in Darfur, JEM is calling for postponement of the vote in the restive region.

Analysts are however skeptical about this, since it could inadvertently lead to pushing back of the South referendum slated for January 2011.

Salva Kiir, speaking at the IGAD summit in Nairobi in March says the dates for the referendum can not and will not be changed. Quoth he: “The Southern people value the referendum more than the elections” Meaning, they are well aware of the fact that NCP will rig elections and cling to power. So why not salvage something for themselves like their right to separate?

Already, the SPLM and NCP have agreed to pospone the vote in South Kordofan following disagreements over the census results.

These are very tricky times in deed! To vote or not to vote, that is the question.

Perhaps we should give more attention to “elite bargaining” as the next phase of resolving this conflict and stop expecting too much on the democratization process? Maybe we need to focus on stabilization first; even allow the South referendum to proceed before elections…


Somaliland: Exemplary African Solution to an African Problem

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(work in progress…)

The Flag of Somaliland

The Flag of Somaliland

This Horn of Africa autonomous region broke away from the greater Somalia in 1991. It has a ‘hybrid’ govt featuring clans system and western-style system complete with a bicameral parliament.

In 2002, the first local govt elections were held followed by presidential elections in 2003 that brought in Pres Dahir Kahin making Somaliland a multiparty democracy.

Women line up to vote in Hargeisa during the first multiparty parliamentary elections in the breakaway Somaliland September 29, 2005.

Somaliland has been relatively stable despite having restive neighbours in Puntland and Somalia. It has a 65,000 strong armed force, a relatively well developed capital city of Hargeisa, fledgling education system, good airport (built by the US for their Columbian space shuttle), nascent but fast growing civil society, etc.

The question is: why won’t the international community recognise this state? No country has voiced its support towards Somaliland’s right to self-determination, except Israel.

Can we replicate what is happening in Somalia and indeed other failing or failed states in Africa?

The Sudan April 2010 Elections


A lot has been written regarding this all-important plebiscite coming at the close oft he six year CPA interim period. Many analysts however look at the elections in light of the Referendum coming up in less than a year’s time. To them, the referendum is more important than the elections.

However, a keen observer will note that the Khartoum elite have more riding on the elections than the referendum. There is nothing much that they (Khartoum elites) can do to stop the impeding separation.  But they can and actually do plan to ‘manage’ the April elections.

Why? Because losing the elections has far-reaching consequences; like it leaves Omar Bashir vulnerable to the ICC arrest if (and this is a big if) he peacefully hands over power to the winner.

If ever there was a time to intervene in Sudan, it is in the next 3 months. (I use the word ‘intervene’ quite cautiously here, not to be misconstrued as having the same meaning as Collier in his Wars, Guns and Votes).  The international community must breath down the Khartoum’s neck, diplomatically of course.

This elections is going to be IT!

But let me indulge you for a moment: whom do you think will win the presidency of The Sudan?